Transition Game

Directed by John Stanton
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Over a decade after the Good Friday Agreement was signed Belfast remains a city divided along sectarian lines, where the threat of violence lingers just beneath the surface.

Transition Game is a story of hope that follows the coaches and players of Cross Over Basketball (formerly Full Court Peace) as they try to build bridges between Catholic and Protestant communities, using the game of basketball and the ethos of team sport.
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transition-game_still_02Since the official declaration of peace he number of so-called peace walls, those Orwellian fences that keep neighbor from neighbor have only increased. Life is more segregated here, not less. Public housing is 95 percent segregated along sectarian lines and schools are the same, a landscape in which the fear and misunderstanding of “the other” festers. Escalating unemployment only makes matters worse.

The young basketball players, teenagers from Catholics-only schools and Protestants-only school are taught the game separately and then brought together to become teammates. While they may be friends in the gym they often cannot walk in each other’s neighborhoods for fear of violence. Even the younger players, who have never seen a British soldier on the streets of Belfast, instinctively understand where the battle lines are drawn in their daily life. Their coaches, both Northern Irish and American, stay away from trying to act as social workers, believing that the simple but powerful act of learning to be teammates will be enough to open the eyes and hearts of their players.
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John Stanton’s films have always been about the search for community. His last film, Last Call, centered on an infamous watering hole that was the center of local life on Nantucket and whose closing marked the change from island life to a gentrified playground for the wealthy.

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